Book Review: iWoz

By David Fekke
January 17th, 2011

I just finished reading iWoz, Steve "Woz" Wozniak's autobiography. The book was co-written by Gina Smith, but is written in the first person.

I have been a fan of a lot of the work that Steve and Apple did in the early 70's and 80's. I owned, or I should say that my parents owned an Apple II. Steve designed the Apple II, according to the book, all by himself. He says he wanted to set the record about a lot of misconceptions about him and Apple. He designed the Apple I and the Apple II by himself. Steve Jobs did not design the Apple computers. He says that he never quit working at Apple. He still is an employee for Apple to this day.

The first half of the book covers what he did as an engineer before he and Jobs started Apple. He talks a lot about his parents and the influence they had on him as a child, teaching him about electronics, ethics and education. His father was an engineer, and his mother was a teacher.

I don't want to talk about too much of what is in the book, because I think everyone should read the book. With that said, I think one of the interesting things about the book is the lack of a forward. Steve Jobs was supposed to write the forward, but backed out right before the book was published. After reading the book, I can understand why he didn't. The book does not make Jobs look very good.

In the book Woz says that Steve screwed him out of several thousand dollars on the hardware design he did for breakout at Atari. He says that he did not mind because he wound up making millions on Apple. Later on in the book, he talks about the remote control he designed at Cloud Nine. Frog design did the case design, which was the same company that did designs for Apple at the time. Woz was told that Jobs saw the remote control, and threw it against the wall, and put it in a box, and told Frog to send that design to Woz.

One of the things I found interesting was that Woz created the BASIC interpreter for the Apple I and the Apple II. He knew that Bill Gates had done the BASIC for the Altair, and he wanted to do a BASIC. My understanding was that Bill Gates copied the basic he used from DEC, and made it work on the Altair with help from Paul Allen and another engineer. Woz did it all by himself. I learned how to program using that BASIC interpreter in the Apple II.

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